We are grateful to Juan Botello for his assistance confirming the authenticity of this work.
Ángel Botello's artistic legacy includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, mosaics, and woodcarving. During the last year of his life alone, the Puerto Rican master worked on numerous large-size bronze sculptures as if in a fury to complete his life's work since being diagnosed with lung cancer early in 1985. Botello trained at the École des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France, 1930 and the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, 1935. Forced to leave Spain after the horrors of the Civil War where he served on the Republican side, the artist travelled with his family to the Caribbean and spent several years living and working in Santo Domingo, Cuba, and Haiti before settling permanently in San Juan in 1953. By then he had been critically acclaimed for his lush and idyllic Caribbean landscapes and numerous portraits of young women and children.
This quiet portrait of a young woman, Nu au mango, dates to the artist's prolific decade following his stay in Santo Domingo where as early as 1940, his work had been shown in local exhibitions such as the prestigious Ateneo de Santo Domingo. The young girl's innocence is reflected in her shy and almost timid pose and her downcast eyes are fixed on the emerald-green mango she holds in her hand. The un-ripened fruit alludes to her own youth as she departs childhood into womanhood. The background serves to highlight the sitter's face while denoting a new exploration for the artist--the more abstract road he will forge ahead in his work. The girl's figure is flat, angular and outlined in black making the composition strict and almost stark. Nevertheless, the artist has captured the sheer sensuality of the girl who seems enthralled by the tropical fruit.
Botello's years in Puerto Rico were prosperous and productive as he became a part of the island's cultural scene and his work was shown successively in important institutions and museums in Puerto Rico and abroad. Like many other artists who had left Europe after the Spanish Civil War, Botello found inspiration in the people and land of his adopted tropical paradise home.
The author wishes to thank Juan Botello whom she consulted in reference to several details of this essay.